As promised, after we have covered the 1st generation of Wink Hub in our series of reviews, we will move on to other flagship products from Wink. Before we will discuss the 2nd generation of the Wink Hub, we will first review the Wink Smart Home Touchscreen Controller, or also often called the Wink Relay Controller.
Now, the Wink Relay (for short), is a bit different compared to the other similar products we have reviewed before, including the Wink Hub 1. While products like Wink Hub 1 and Samsung SmartThings are controlled through a smartphone app or voice control integration with Alexa, the Wink Relay Controller comes with a wall-mounted LED touchscreen controller, where you can control and monitor your smart lighting system, smart lock and doorbell, and many other supported devices.
Regarding supported devices and protocols, it’s similar to the Wink Hub 1, so you can refer to our Wink Hub 1 review. Besides its touchscreen LED, it also comes with a microphone that can function as an intercom, as well as to control some products. So, if you are also looking for a smart intercom, the Wink Relay is a pretty neat package.
One thing to keep in mind, if you are reading any Wink Smart Home Touchscreen Panel review, is that many the Wink Relay was not successful in its early launch back in 2015. Many of its current features are updated mid-2016, including the intercom functionality, the full integration of Uber services and Fitbit, and IFTTT recipes. So, make sure that you are reading an updated review post-June 2016.
Because there are many similarities with the Wink Hub, the main focus of our discussion will be the touch panel itself. To keep in mind, while the Wink Hub 1 is known for its affordability, that is not the case for Wink Smart Home Touchscreen. It is priced at $149 officially by Wink, although you can probably get it for a bit less with discounts.
The wall-mounted touchscreen control will deliver all the features you will get from the Wink Smartphone app, and you can still control the Relay from the smartphone app itself. In our opinion, wall-mounted control might be the standard for future smart home systems, so it might be a worthwhile investment.
Let’s kickstart our Wink Smart Home Touchscreen Panel review by discussing its key features.
Obviously, the main highlight of the Wink Relay is its touchscreen, which is not offered by most of its competitors. The new update to the Wink Relay mid-2016 gave full integration to Uber, Fitbit, and IFTTT recipes, so the Touchscreen is richer in features.
The mid-2016 update also enables Wink Relay’s microphone, so that it can act as a broadcast intercom. If you are also looking for an intercom, this won’t give you the full feature, as it can’t connect to individual relays, but only as broadcast. However, it’s a great value overall, and with an Alexa-enabled device, you can turn it into a voice-command assistant.
We have talked about how the Wink Hub 1 is impressive with its third party integration, supporting a wide range of protocols from Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, Kidde, and Wi-Fi connection. You will also get the same integrations with the Wink Relay.
Being a wall-mounted relay, the installation process is more complicated than other products we have reviewed before. You will need to remove a light switch or power outlet, and wire-in the Wink Relay Touchscreen in its place. This will require a bit of electrical proficiency, but Wink provides quite a comprehensive instruction. If you don’t have a neutral wire, however, it can be a hassle, as Wink suggested to call the support center to get a workaround for the problem for such cases. We tried to give them a call, only to find that you will indeed need a neutral wire anyways.
Once the Wink Relay is mounted, the small LED will turn on as you restore power. You can test each of the mechanical switches by following the instruction booklet. If your wiring is on-point, the Relay will power on. Then, you can set up your Wi-Fi network with the onscreen keyboard.
As usual, you can download the app for your smartphone, available for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 phones. Here, you can sync the Wink Smart Relay with your smartphone app, or the Wink Hub, if you already have one. In our case, we tested to sync the Wink Relay with the Wink Hub 1, and the process is seamless.
Here, we found out that the Wink Relay’s Wi-Fi connection is significantly better compared to the Wink Hub 1. We have mentioned the connectivity issues found in the Wink Hub 1, and gladly it’s fixed with the Wink Relay.
However, similar issues about device integrations is still prevalent here, as the integrations with Lutron devices are still a headache. Overall, it retains all the benefits and weaknesses of the Wink Hub 1, with the touchscreen and microphone as their only differences.
The touchscreen and microphone, as well as the physical buttons, performed really well. We tried to program the physical buttons with IFTTT recipe, and they perform really well.
One thing to keep in mind is that the wall-mount control approach will also mean it will be accessible to everyone in your household. This could be a problem if you have children or maid, but you can set up a security passcode to prevent such problems.
- Wall-mounted smart touch panel for easier centralized control
- Wide range of integration with third-party products and protocols
- Very reliable signal strength and performance
- The mid-2016 update brings a lot of new features, and we can expect similar firmware updates in the future, making it future proof
- Microphone for voice command (need Alexa) and broadcast intercom
- Third party integration can be a hassle with some products
- Relatively complicated installation process, will need a bit of electrical basic
You Should Buy this If
The centralized, smart touch panel feature will definitely be a nice feature for some of us, as well as the intercom feature, although limited. If you are looking for those features, this product is the best option.
Let’s end the Wink Smart Home Control Panel review with a verdict:
The touchscreen monitor and panel is definitely the biggest selling point of the Wink Relay, and the question for you is whether you will need that feature. The great third-party integration with various products and protocols are great, and it is more reliable in connectivity compared to the Wink Hub 1.
It is significantly more expensive than the Wink Hub 1, and even the 2nd generation, but the touch screen and microphone features, in our opinion, justified the price difference.